Day 4
Holiness vs. Perfectionism

Yesterday, we examined the role of the Holy Spirit in relation to our own role in attaining holiness. While it has been brought to our awareness that it is the Spirit's job to change us and to mold us, it offers no excuse for us to lay back and do nothing. We do have an active role to play to contribute the necessary ingredients to the ': our humility, openness, and willingness. These are the major building blocks to guarantee success which requires more than minimum effort on our end. In fact, it requires more effort than what one might think in contributing just those major ingredients! Having said that, the fact that the Holy Spirit contributes the bigger share in the pie should remove the gripping fears within us in our aspiration to holiness. But you may still have a question in your heart: What actually is “holiness”? Good and important question!

It is important not to mix up “holiness” with “perfectionism”. God asks us to be holy. It is not the same as aiming for perfection on an absolute scale. In fact, the “meaning” of holiness is different from one person to another. How can that be? You may ask. Let us return to the car analogy. God has created each of us to His delight, according to His will and plan. In His plan, no two persons are identical, even if they are identical twins. We are all unique in God’s eyes. We are all one-of-a-kind custom-built cars, with unique combinations of features and functionalities based on what we are called to accomplish in life. When a car is driven to its best performance according to the specifications, it has accomplished its mission!

Similarly, to be holy is to strive to become the person we are called to be, to live out our fullest potential, and to achieve the unique mission we are called to accomplish on earth. And we begin to do so by attending promptly to the inspirations of the Spirit in our daily lives. This requires us to live well at the present moment, being always attentive to the motions of the Spirit. When the inspiration comes, we offer our free will to follow His prompts, while at the same time, resisting the temptation to be in control. Letting go of our control relieves us from all the stress and burdens. Again, think of it this way. Who is a better driver of a car than its designer and creator? If we let the Holy Spirit be the driver as well as the main provider of the fuel for our engine, we are guaranteed to cruise through life easier than what we would have ever imagined!

That's why Jesus says, “For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”

– (Bible: Matthew 11:30)

It is important not to compare our paths to holiness to anyone else's.

Doing so will trigger our desire to take over the control from the Spirit, trying to race our engines in order to overtake other cars along the way. Remember, life is not a Formula One competition! There is no need to overtake one another in the realm of attaining holiness. Otherwise, we will always be under an overwhelming and mounting pressure, crippling us and countering our effort to make any meaningful progress.

“God calls us to perfection, but he is not a perfectionist.”

– Fr. Jacques Philippe

It is also important to note that for each stage of our lives, there are different priorities in terms of attaining holiness. For example, for a parent with a newborn baby, his/her priority is to work on the virtues of patience and sacrificing one’s needs for the good of others; and for a child/student/seminarian, to focus on the virtue of obedience. Note even the paths to holiness for two seminarians are uniquely different. We can conclude that the path, and the timeframe to holiness are unique for each person. Only God knows and only God can judge. After all, we should all follow the Father’s unique will for us. How? By attending to and following the prompts of the Holy Spirit everyday.

“Perfection is reached not so much by external conformity to an ideal as by inner faithfulness to God's inspirations.”

– Fr. Jacques Philippe

Inspirations are the Holy Spirit's way of coaching us along this path to holiness,
and to direct our efforts to areas that God wants us to focus on.

Divine Empowerment by the Holy Spirit is given to us to provide the necessary grace and strength for us to act on the prompts and inspirations by the Spirit, as we cruise along our spiritual journey and path to holiness until we reach our final destination — the Father's House. Since our Heavenly Father is perfect, and He is Love, in order for us to return to the Father, we have to grow both in holiness and in charity.

Dear Holy Spirit, thank you for your enlightenment as I learn my way to holiness. Teach me not to be a perfectionist as I strive for holiness, but in every step, learn to be attentive and conform to the prompts of the Spirit, to become the best version of myself in your eyes. I ask this in Jesus' name. Amen!

Novena to the Holy Spirit:

Invocation Prayer to the Holy Spirit

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and enkindle in them the fire of your love. O Holy Spirit, beloved of my soul, I adore you. Enlighten me, guide me, strengthen me, and console me. Tell me what to do, direct my every choice.I promise to submit myself to all you desire of me and to accept all that you permit to happen to me. Let me only know your will.Grant this through Christ Our Lord. Amen.

Day Four Desiring the Spirit“ Belief” Luke 11:9-13: And I tell you, ask and you will receive: seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For anyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. What father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish?Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg? If you then who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.

Meditation: God is all around us. His Spirit pervades the universe and yet we do not let His Spirit in. We try to get along without His help and we make a mess of our lives. We can do nothing of any value without God’s help. Our human relationships depend on God. When we let God’s Spirit rule our lives, we learn how to get along with others and how to help them.
Prayer for the Day: Lord, I believe that Jesus Christ is you Son, and that we are saved through His grace.Grant that the Holy Spirit may strengthen my belief that I may glorify Him in all my works. Amen
Prayer for the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit

O Lord Jesus Christ, Who, before ascending into heaven, did promise to send the Holy Spirit to finish Your work in the souls of Your Apostles and Disciples, deign to grant the same Holy Spirit to me that He may perfect in my soul, the work of Your grace and Your love. Grant me the Spirit of Wisdom that I may despise the perishable things of this world and aspire only after the things that are eternal, the Spirit of Understanding to enlighten my mind with the light of Your divine truth, the Spirit of Counsel that I may ever choose the surest way of pleasing God and gaining heaven, the Spirit of Fortitude that I may bear my cross with You and that I may overcome with courage all the obstacles that oppose my salvation, the Spirit of Knowledge that I may know God and know myself and grow perfect in the science of the Saints, the Spirit of Piety that I may find the service of God sweet and amiable, and the Spirit of Fear that I may be filled with a loving reverence towards God and may dread in any way to displease Him. Mark me, dear Lord, with the sign of Your true disciples and animate me in all things with Your Spirit. Amen.